Ruby’s Pantry has a
rich heritage as a community outreach of Home and Away Ministries, Inc.,
a 501 C 3 non-profit corporation. However, its beginning roots extend
back to an online inspirational called the ChurchMouse Chronicles which
started in 1997.
Lyn Sahr, the founder, had been a
pastor for numerous years and had decided to take time away from the
pastoral ministry and began to write a daily inspirational called
“Thought For The Day.”
www.churchmouse.net began to
draw thousands of monthly visitors to its website.
In 1999 Lyn Sahr
became challenged to take a group of 36 young people to
for a missions trip and quickly saw the plight of the poor in
and felt compelled to try to make a difference in some way. Soon he
began to take numerous trips to
per year speaking in churches, holding conferences (Pastors, Men &
Youth), conducting community outreaches and working with the church and
other organizations there who were helping people with low resources and in
crises. Eventually this would become the “away” part of Home and Away
Ministries, Inc. and became known as the Great Commission Alliance.
2002 it was determined that to help fund the organization and to acquire
donated items for the outreach in Mexico
it would be best to become a 501 C 3 non-profit corporation, which
is required by many outlets for corporate surplus. Corporation papers were
filed in February of 2003 and the IRS issued its 501 C 3 approval ruling
letter in May of 2003.
Shortly thereafter application was made and
approved to become a community partner with Hope For The City, a
based organization that provides corporate surplus to non-profit
We had received various toys
and items from other community partners of theirs prior to our approval
that were taken to Mexico
and given to children on the streets and poor neighborhoods. So upon
approval we went to pick up our first weekly Friday toy distribution in
a pickup with a topper. To our surprise, they filled our pickup with
food, no toys! After
several minutes of silence in the 60 minute drive back to
the question was asked, “What are we going to do with all this food?”
Honestly, we didn’t know. We had no clue that they
distributed food and we were speechless. But by the time we arrived back
the Blessing Box concept was born.
After unloading the food and
boxing it “family ready,” we began to call a few people and ask them if
they knew of anyone who could use some food.
first person who responded positively was a local real estate agent who knew
of a couple that had recently moved back to town and she felt like they
could really use the help. However, when she approached them
said, “No, we are fine but our daughter and her husband could really use
it. He is laid off and they have a little
boy and can barely make their house
real estate agent then took the boxes
of food, brought it to the young couple’s house and knocked on the door.
The young woman answered and began to cry she was so overwhelmed with
emotion. It turned out that the only thing they had to eat in the past
three days was either macaroni or rice. Sometimes it is hard to tell who
is greater blessed, those receiving the food or those who bring it!
For the next few weeks we
continued the trip to Minneapolis
with the hopes of getting toys and gifts for
only to leave somewhat bewildered with a pickup load of food. We
continued to seek out people in need and volunteers delivered food to
families, the tears shed were showers of blessings!
help fund Home and Away Ministries, Inc. we contacted individual people,
one at a time, who
advertised their cars for sale on the internet and asked them if they
would be interested in donating their car and receive a tax deduction
for it. One day a few weeks after we started getting this food instead
of toys I received a phone call from someone whom we had evidently
emailed and he asked me, “If I gave you my truck, what would you do with
it?” I said, “I guess we will haul food it in!” And we did. Suddenly we
were getting truck loads and not pickup loads and we kept
giving it away. The more food we gave away the more we got! The first
truck was a 78 Ford Cube Van with only 90,000 miles on it and soon we
received a 1997 Chevy Cube Van, a 1993 Ford 7000 diesel 20’ Straight
truck and then the 1997 Freightliner Diesel 24”straight truck. We
donated our first cube van to African Missions and it was shipped there
and is used for bringing medical supplies to remote villages.
In February of 2005
I met a man in a real estate office
who owned an 11,000 square foot building in the industrial park in North
Branch, 20 miles south of
and closer to
Minneapolis. I made him a
quick suggested offer for his building and he laughed. A few days later
he called back and said that we could maybe make this work. One thing
led to another and we were able to purchase the building and close June
30, 2005. It appraised at $600,000.
Over the next few years the program began to grow and two 1995
international straight trucks were added including one of them being a
reefer donated from Bernatellis Pizza. In 2008 we purchased our first
semi tractor and trailer. We quickly learned that the bigger trucks you
have the more food companies would donate to us. In 2009 we opened a
distritution center in Waupaca, WI which has now grown to 10
distribution sites. In 2012 we purchased a 19,000 square foot warehouse
in Waupaca from the Milwaulkee Journal for the bargain price of
$185,000. In 2010 three more semi tractors were added. In 2010 two
Perterbuilt straight truck reefers were purchased. In 2011 a 2005
Frieghtliner semi tractor was donated by a trucking company from North
Dakota. In 2012 a 2005 and 2006 semi tractors were purchased.
Today Ruby's Pantry has seven semi tractors, 15 semi reefer road
trailers, 5 stationary electric reefer trailers, three cube vans and two
cargo vans to carry on the mission of helping people.
In 2012 30 employees and thousands of volunteers of Ruby's Pantry distributed
over 9,000,000 pounds of food to over 100,000 families
We have been blessed!